Everyone's talking about "the smart home of the future". That's great and all, but many of the features smart appliances, in particular, offer have to make you wonder.
If I can turn my oven on and off from my phone that means I am not home...kind of unsafe.
If I need to check the camera in my refrigerator to remind me what I need at the store...I just can't respond to that
There a number of really good, smart products out there, but you should really focus on using the ones that will keep you, your family and your home safe. The others are nice luxuries, but really how much will you use them? They are just unrealistic.
If we're starting somewhere, then let's discuss the difference between apps and smart speakers, which are being marketed to make life easier, more convenient and safe.
For me, AI devices like Alexa, Amazon's smart speaker, in your home need to come with a warning. Sure it's fun to ask Alexa or Google Home questions, get answers, retrieve the news of the day and even the temperature. Kids love it and voice activation will continue to grow, however, Alexa the personal assistant/shopper, Alexa in your car, Alexa opening the garage, Alexa track me everywhere I go and everything I do. That is just too much personal information for one company to have. And, Google is not innocent. Just don't do it.
Instead, create a process you control.
There's an App for That
I'm a big believer that one should be able to control everything from their phone...themselves. This means you have the control to setup, view and track smart devices and technology through apps that you install on your phone and create the settings for. No one but you can control those devices.
Here's how you set up your secure home without spending tens of thousands of dollars:
The first step to a secure, smart home is strong internet and Wifi throughout. If you live in a home, duplex or older building with reinforced walls, it can be frustrating having "dead zones" and feel your paying for a service you're not getting. Turns out, it could just be your hardware.
If your router is out of date, it might not be able to handle the 1.2 terabytes you're paying for. The cable/phone company isn't going to just come out and upgrade it for you. We recommend buying your own router over renting one. In the long run it will save you money and enhance the service in which you're paying.
I recommend the Netgear Nighthawk. There are a variety of them that allow for best streaming quality to security, though they are more expensive. With working from home and remote learning, it's worth the splurge to ensure no one misses a Zoom call. Plus, it comes with an app. We also recommend the Tenda Nova mesh routers to extend the WIFI in your home. (We use them in our home, so this is tested and proven!)
Monitor Your Internet Consumption - another reason why I like the Nighthawk is because I can track our usage on my phone. For instance, the cable company is trying to upsell us another $30/mo because we were "supposedly" going over our data. Since we own our router, I can track it myself and don't have to rely on the potential for getting sold something we don't need. Moreover, I can track on the app the impact of remote learning, video streaming, video conferencing and working from home.
Get Bitdefender - Bitdefender is antivirus software that comes in your router. Yes! I know!! Essentially, the software stops viruses in their tracks before they come into your home, ensuring that all computers and devices connected to the internet stay safe. if you get the Netgear Nighthawk, it comes with Netgear Armor powered by Bitdefender. You can now control your own cyber security inside your home.
Home Security System - first off, these systems don't cost what you think they do. On a payment plan, it can actually be quite reasonable. But let's be honest, peace of mind is priceless. Today's security systems can even connect to smart door locks so you can monitor everything from one app - cameras, who's coming in and out, windows and doors.
Digital Door Locks - this is the simplest way to keep your home secure because digital door locks are down right unhackable, well almost, but it would take a lot of work and effort. Thieves would likely become frustrated and leave before accomplishing a break in. What I like about these locks is that everyone can have their own code - the dog walker, babysitter, housekeeper, every single child, grandma, etc. - so you can keep track of who is in and out of your house. Each code is like a personal identification number.
Smart Thermostats - honestly, smart thermostats can range from $130-300 bucks, but it can save you a lot of money, especially if you have gas heat. These thermostats are set up from your phone and never again do you have to hear "honey, did you turn down the hear" when you're 50 miles out of town. The other plus is alerts. If the temperature goes up or drops too low, you will know it and can ask your neighbor to check while they feed your cat to ensure there won't be any frozen pipe surprises because the water gas furnace went out. Yikes.
Smart Smoke Detectors - you may not think about it until after you have a fire. We certainly didn't. Smart smoke alarms can notify you when you're at home or away and we can't express how obvious it is that everyone should have them.
The myth that basic home security costs a lot, is one that needs to be debunked. You don't need a million dollar system with bells and whistles that require a professional security team to run day and night. Focus on the things that matter to keep you, your family and your home safe.
Everyone deserves to feel safe.
If you have any questions about product recommendations or set up, give us a call. We got this!